The month is almost over and I haven't written anything here for quitesome time.  Part of the reason is that I was in South Dakota for fivedays.  The other part of the reason is that I haven't had much to sayof late.  The holidays have a somewhat dulling effect on cynicism,sarcasm, and anger.  Since much of what I write is fueled by one ormore of those emotions, the lack of such sometimes leaves me withoutinteresting things to write.

The drive to South Dakota from our home in Madison, WI probably takesabout eight to eight and one-half hours.  Sarah's Saturn is reliable,but certainly not built for speed.  Driving 75mph in South Dakota wegot 24mpg.  Driving 70mph in Minnesota and Wisconsin we got32mpg.  Also, the lack of traffic in Minnesota and South Dakota onInterstates 29 and 90 was a refreshing change from driving Interstate 880 inOakland and Interstate 80 in Berkeley (or San Francisco, for thatmatter).  We would joke about the heavy traffic on Interstate 29 ifthere were two other cars in our lane either in front of us or behindus. Ira has finally given up on the idea of hibernation.  We originallyplanned on hibernating him in the fridge this year, but his weight was a bitlower than I'd like to see it, so we've been trying to keep him awake andeating.  For a few weeks there in early December we were losing thebattle and he was sleeping like it was going out of style.  In the lastweek or so, however, he's perked up quite a bit.  Yesterday and today,he was stomping around his box, trying to get out.  We put him on thekitchen floor for a while, and he proceeded to try and make good hisescape (into the bedroom).  He just doesn't seem to grasp the conceptthat it is really cold outside for a tortoise right now and that hisdemands to be let outside cannot be granted.

The holidays did not interrupt the Bush/Cheney administration's march towar with Iraq.  Troops and equipment continue to pour into the PersianGulf.  Of course, if you believe the current Administration, all ofthis is "just in case."  Right...

I'd respect the Administration more if they weren't lying to the Americanpublic about Administration's ultimate intentions and plans.  Are therethree people in America who honestly believe that Bush/Cheney does not wanta war with Iraq?  If Bush/Cheney would just come right out andsay:  "Hey, our kids are not on the front lines, nobody we knowhas kids on the front lines, and our buddies and cronies stand to profitfrom a war with Iraq.  Bush's Daddy wants to see Hussein shot. Dick likes to run a war (he ran the Panama invasion and the Gulf War). Bush likes the idea of being a wartime President.  Chasing bin Ladin istough work and we'd like to distract the public from the fact that we've hadno luck with that so far.  So, given all of that, we're going to invadeIraq.  Any questions?"  I still wouldn't agree with thedecision, but at least the Administration couldn't be faulted for playingthe public as fools.

Sarah and I decided that we would buy a new television this year insteadof buying each other Christmas gifts.  Our old television was, quiteliterally, old enough to vote (hopefully, it wouldn't voteRepublican).  The new television is a significant improvement over theold one.  I did not anticipate how much component video would sharpenthe picture from the DVD player, nor how much sharpness and color was beinglost and distorted by our old television.

Capsule Reviews: - TheEmperor's New Clothes:  An excellent movie that we saw a shortwhile ago.  Funny, compelling story.  Excellent scenery andacting. - Y tumamá también:  Spanish with English subtitles.  Asexually charged film.  Two Mexican teenage boys and a Spanish womanset out to reach the ocean from Mexico City.  Many things are not whatthey seem and many secrets are revealed.  A good, surprising film. - DieAnother Day:  We saw this a month ago in Cleveland with Sarah'sfamily.  A decent Bond film, but not necessarily a good film. Excellent special effects, except for one scene that appears to have rippedright out of a fifties or sixties surfing movie.